People know vegetables, beans and lentils are good for you. But some are afraid to cook them at home, because they don’t turn out as well as in restaurants. Follow these tips.
If you love vegetables, beans and lentils, it’s probably because you know how to cook them, how to dress them, how to incorporate them into recipes. But I know a lot of people who like vegetables and are happy to eat them — if someone else prepares them. Bring on the kale, broccoli raab and lentils at restaurants, but at home, that’s a different story. “I just don’t know what to do with vegetables,” is a common refrain.
Vegetables are an essential component of a healthful, nutrient-rich diet, and beans and lentils (aka legumes or, more correctly, pulses) are an amazing source of both plant-based protein and high-quality carbohydrates, along with other nutrients. That means it’s worth it to have at least a few delicious ways to prepare them.
Last month I attended the annual Nutrition & Health Conference, which is sponsored by the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. One of the speakers was Guy Crosby, Ph.D., science editor for America’s Test Kitchen, co-author of “The Science of Good Cooking” and “Cook’s Science” and an adjunct nutrition professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Crosby said that even though virtually everyone knows that vegetables and pulses are very healthful, on average Americans are eating just over half the recommended amounts, and that flavor is likely the reason.
“Just being healthy is not enough — they have to be delicious as well,” he said. “Studies show that flavor is the most important factor in determining what foods people like and what foods they choose to eat.” He pointed out that a lot of vegetarian dishes end up being unnecessarily bland and unappetizing, and that some vegetables can even taste bitter and unpleasant to some people.